If your child is need of orthodontics, you may be facing the choice of several types of orthodontic treatments. Orthodontic treatments can be used for a variety of issues, from misalignment to crowding to overbites. You’re probably familiar with traditional metal braces, but did you know there are actually several kinds braces? In addition to metal braces, your child can be fitted with ceramic braces or Invisalign. If you’re curious about what type of orthodontic treatment may be best for your child, here is our breakdown of the four most popular orthodontic treatments.
When to See an Orthodontist
While not every child will require orthodontic treatment, it’s best to have them in for a routine orthodontic screening no later than age 7. Early identification of any orthodontic issues will make treatment much easier.
Some signs that your child may need some type of orthodontic treatment include:
- A jaw that is disproportionate to the face
- Frequent thumb sucking
- Chronically breathing from the mouth rather than the nose
- Primary teeth that fall out too early or too late
- Malocclusion (overbite/underbite)
- Visible crowding of the teeth
Even if your child doesn’t show any obvious signs of orthodontic issues, they should still see an orthodontist just to be sure. Orthodontists can identify issues that may not be obvious just by looking at your child’s teeth.
Who Needs Braces?
Braces can treat a variety of orthodontic problems, including:
- Overbites where the upper front teeth are too far forward and stick out over the lower teeth.
- Underbites where the lower teeth are too far forward or the upper teeth are too far back.
- Crossbites where the upper teeth do not come down slightly in front of the lower teeth when biting.
- Open bites where there is a space between the biting surfaces of the front and/or side teeth when the back teeth bite together.
- Misplaced midlines where the center of the upper front teeth does not line up with the center of the lower front teeth.
- Spacing issues including gaps or spaces between the teeth as a result of missing teeth or teeth that don’t fill up the mouth.
- Crowding issues that occur when there are too many teeth for the dental ridge to accommodate.
Your child’s orthodontist will use a visual analysis of your child’s teeth along with x-rays to determine if there are any problems that need correcting. If your child does require some type of orthodontic treatment, there are several options to consider.
When you think about braces, the mental image you have is likely of traditional metal braces. Traditional braces involve gluing a metal bracket to the teeth. An archwire runs from molar to molar through the brackets, and the wire is held in place with small rubber bands.
The average length of treatment for traditional braces varies depending on the severity of your child’s orthodontic issues. On average, treatment may last from 1 to 3 years.
During the duration of treatment with traditional braces, your child will have to visit their orthodontist regularly. Generally, your child will visit the orthodontist once a month to have their braces tightened. The orthodontist will adjust the wire and rubber bands of your child’s braces, creating more tension to shift the teeth into the proper position. Your child may experience some soreness and discomfort after getting their braces adjusted.
Pros of Traditional Braces
Traditional braces tend to be much more affordable than other types of orthodontic treatments. If cost is a big consideration for you, you won’t find anything cheaper than traditional metal braces.
Traditional braces also tend to be the fastest treatment options. Because they’re made of stainless steel, they can move your child’s teeth quickly and effectively.
There is an element of customization with traditional braces that may make the process a bit more fun for your child. The rubber bands used to hold the wire in place come in a variety of colors, so your child can choose their favorite. Your child can also choose the color of the metal brackets. If your child isn’t thrilled with the idea of metal braces, the opportunity to customize the braces can help them warm up to the idea.
Since traditional braces stay in your child’s mouth for the entire duration of treatment, you don’t have to worry about them being lost or accidentally thrown away like with clear aligners. This makes traditional options a great option for younger children who may not be responsible enough to keep tracker of removable aligners.
Cons of Traditional Braces
The biggest disadvantage of traditional metal braces is purely cosmetic. They’re very apparent when your child smiles, and many children with braces feel self conscious about how their braces look.
If your child has traditional braces, they’ll also have to adjust their diet and habits. Many foods can get stuck in or damage braces, so your child will have to avoid eating them for the duration of their treatment. They’ll have to cut out things like sticky candy, corn on the cob, popcorn, and gum. If your child has a habit of chewing on things like pens or their fingernails, they’ll have to stop that too. Biting on hard things can damage metal braces.
Ceramic braces are set up similarly to traditional braces. However, ceramic braces are made of clear materials rather than metal, which makes them less apparent than traditional braces.
Just like with traditional braces, ceramic braces require brackets to be bonded to your child’s teeth. The brackets will have an archwire running through them, held in place with rubber bands.
If your child opts for ceramic braces, they will need to visit their orthodontist regularly to have them adjusted. The process is akin to traditional braces. During your child’s monthly appointment, their orthodontist will adjust the wires and bands to create more tension to shift your child’s teeth into the correct places. Since ceramic braces are so similar to traditional braces, treatment duration is the same as well.
Pros of Ceramic Braces
Ceramic braces provide the same level of treatment that is afforded by traditional braces, but they are visually more subtle. They tend to be a good choice for older children who are more self-conscious about the look of traditional braces.
In terms of visually subtle types of orthodontic treatments, ceramic braces have an advantage over Invisalign. Ceramic braces correct alignment issues much faster than Invisalign if the length of treatment is a concern for your child.
Cons of Ceramic Braces
Ceramic braces are larger than traditional metal braces, and they are also more brittle. They’re not ideal for young children since they require more care than other types of orthodontic treatments.
Unlike other types of orthodontic treatments, ceramic braces can be stained. Your child will have to avoid things like tea, coffee, or other staining foods to help prevent discoloration of the braces. If your child does experience staining, alert their orthodontist at the next visit. The orthodontist can swap out the parts for a new, unstained piece.
In terms of cost, ceramic braces fall in the middle. They’re significantly more expensive than traditional braces, but they cost less than Invisalign. If cost is a concern, it’s worth looking at the price of traditional braces versus ceramic braces.
Invisalign is a series of clear, removable aligners. The aligners are custom-made to fit your child’s teeth, and they apply pressure to gradually move and even rotate the teeth. Because Invisalign is removable, your child can take out their aligners for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing.
To be fitted for Invisalign, your child’s orthodontist will use a scanner to create 3D images of your child’s teeth. They will map out a treatment plan for your child, so you can immediately tell how long the treatment will take.
Based on the 3D images of your child’s teeth, a custom set of aligners will be made for them. Like with other types of orthodontic treatment, Invisalign still requires regular orthodontic appointments. Your child will get a new set of aligners every week or every 2 weeks, though the orthodontist may only require check ups every 6-8 weeks.
As Invisalign technology has advanced, it is now an option for a wider variety of orthodontic issues than it once was. Like traditional braces, Invisalign can treat all kinds of issues from spacing problems to overbites.
Pros of Invisalign
Invisalign is a great choice for children who are resistant to getting braces due to their appearance. Invisalign the same effect as traditional braces, but they’re virtually invisible.
Unlike with traditional braces, children with Invisalign don’t have to cut certain foods out of their diet. Invisalign can be removed while your child eats, so you don’t have to worry about food getting stuck in or damaging their braces.
Many children with traditional braces experience discomfort caused by the metal rubbing against the inside of the mouth. With Invisalign, there are no sharp edges to worry about.
The average treatment length with Invisalign is similar to that of traditional braces. Usually, treatment takes an average of 12 to 18 months.
Cons of Invisalign
Invisalign is the most expensive type of orthodontic treatment. If cost is a factor, it may be worth considering traditional or ceramic braces instead.
If your child is prone to losing things, Invisalign may not be the right option. Since your child will remove their aligners while eating and brushing, there’s a possibility for the aligners to be misplaced or even thrown out. Invisalign are also more fragile than other orthodontic treatments, so your child could potentially break their aligners.
Invisalign isn’t an option for every child who needs orthodontic treatment. If your child has particular severe problems, it’s best to consult with their orthodontist to see if Invisalign is an option.
A lesser known type of orthodontic treatment, lingual braces are a type of braces that are placed behind the teeth.
To be fitted for lingual braces, the orthodontist will take an impression of your child’s teeth that will be sent to a dental laboratory. It takes about 6 weeks for the lab to create customized brackets for your child’s teeth. The orthodontist then cements these brackets onto the back of your child’s teeth.
There are several brands of lingual braces on the market. Talking to your child’s orthodontist is the best way to figure out which one will best suit your child’s needs.
Pros of Lingual Braces
Because they’re positioned behind the teeth, lingual braces are much less visible than traditional braces and are another good option for the self conscious child.
Lingual braces can be a better option than Invisalign if you’re worried about your child misplacing aligners. Both lingual braces and Invisalign are visually subtle, but you won’t have to worry about your child losing their lingual braces.
Cons of Lingual Braces
Due to the customization involved in fitting your child for lingual braces, they tend to be more expensive than traditional braces. Their price can be comparable to Invisalign, so it may be prudent to do some price checking before making a decision.
Because of their position, lingual braces may cause the tongue to be tender or irritated. Some people find that lingual braces make speaking and enunciating more difficult, but this effect often goes away once the patient adjusts to the feeling of their new braces.
Contact Our Team to Learn More
If your child needs orthodontic treatment, there is a lot to consider. The best thing to do is to start a conversation with your child and their orthodontist about all of the options available. Depending on your child’s specific needs and your budget, their orthodontist can recommend the best type of orthodontic treatment.
Whether your child is just in need of an initial orthodontic screening or if they require treatment, the pediatric orthodontists at Children’s Dentistry of Las Vegas can help. We accept Medicaid and most forms of insurance, and have multiple locations throughout the Greater Las Vegas region. Contact us today to make an appointment.